In an age when most music meddles around in an ostentatious swagger, it's good to know that there are artists like Philip Jeck out there. Rather than worrying about flashy apparel and explosive, catchy choruses, Jeck worries about subtle dynamics and disparate textures. His approach is subtle but direct, repetitive but interesting, mainly executed by an assortment of record-players, a minidisc player, and a Casio keyboard. On 7, Jeck continues this bold quest of avant-garde turntabalism, creating a multi-faceted affair that is both dynamic and restrained.
Of course, comparing Jeck's music to braggadocios rock is trivial; what really matters is its comparison to previous efforts. Perhaps most noticeably different from 2002's more well known Stoke is that 7, which was created by editing home and concert recordings, is a bit more accessible and catchy. It's no pop album, to be sure, but it does have a quality that enables listeners to immediately identify the tracks. Ranging from abrasive electronics ("Bush Hum") and Lynch-esque droning ("Some Pennies") to eerie contrapuntal crackles ("Museum") and eight-minute ruminations on static and manipulated guitar ("Wholesome"), Jeck massages every possibility out of his musical tools. The album is even more stimulating when he appropriates and recontextualizes melodic lost sounds (i.e. old records) by either juxtaposing or superimposing them with his created sounds ("Now You Can't Let Go").
In the end, however, it is Jeck's deft approach and execution which makes this album so successful. The years he spent practicing his art saran-wraps every note, and not a moment goes by when his acute compositional skills are questioned. Naysayers may argue that Jeck's 7 veers toward accessibility to appeal to the hipsters, but my ears tell me that 7 is a sonic documentation of an artist who has honed his craft. Although Host (released around the same time) is decidedly more experimental and daring, that doesn't mean that 7 has an underlying intent of streamlining for the trucked-capped.
4. Bush Hum
5. Now You Can't Let Go
6. Some Pennies